Your sales managers want you out meeting customers…which is obviously the best thing you can do as a great salesperson. But, why should a customer meet with you? Think about it…is your new ‘product of the month’ a good enough reason for a meeting? Is the fact that your SVP from New York is in town wanting to meet your customers a good reason for them to want to meet with you? (Definitely not, according to the customers I spoke with!)
Think about this quote from Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
I’ve written a lot about needing to put yourself in your customer’s shoes…and that means thinking about having a meeting with you from his or her perspective: “What’s in it for me to meet with this salesperson?”
You need to provide your customer with compelling reasons to meet, for example:
- Provide actionable information for your customer
- Provide cost savings or increased efficiencies for your customer
- Help to make them look good…i.e., help their careers.
Provide actionable information for your customer
When your customer accepts a meeting with you they are viewing the meeting as a way to learn something that they can use to help with their job. This does not mean learning about your ‘great new product’ (that you’re getting a special incentive to sell) unless it directly addresses a need or challenge that your customer is facing. Ideally, you’re going to come in with information, trends, and suggestions that your customer can act upon. It drives your customer crazy when you, or a teammate, present information that is basically just “fun facts” without relating that information back to a customer need or challenge. If you’re taking the time to present something in an hour meeting, that took three months to set up, make sure it is relevant to your customer’s needs…not just your needs.
Provide cost savings or increased efficiencies for your customer
“Cost savings” does mean cutting your prices or decreasing a buy with you and your company. You need to prove that by using your product, you can help your customer reduce some kind of cost or lead to greater efficiencies. If this is an existing customer, take a look at their current investment with your company and look for better ways that they could be buying your products. It’s the right thing to do for your customer and it will differentiate you from other salespeople who don’t look for ways to find efficiencies for their customers. My experience is that your customers will not only appreciate your help but will, in the long run, invest more with you because you’ve shown them that you care about their business.
Help to make them look good…i.e., help their careers
This reason is very important because you, as the salesperson, can be critical in helping your customers grow and advance their careers. Smart customers view their salespeople as a resource to provide industry information and trends. Generally, salespeople are calling on multiple customers within the same industry and, as such, are learning about a lot of different companies within that industry. Smart customers use meetings to learn more about their competition and overall industry news. Now, nothing proprietary should ever be discussed by the salesperson but it is completely legitimate to discuss general trends.
This kind of information gathering is used by customers in their reports to their supervisors and senior management. If a buyer wants to grow and be promoted in an organization they need to be viewed as a resource within their own companies. If they are the “go-to” person for news and trends then they are a valuable asset.
Finally, salespeople can be very important in their customer’s career growth as leads about other jobs. Most salespeople I know are often asked by a customer if they know of anyone who could fill a role at the customer’s company. Since the salesperson is meeting with numerous companies, that salesperson knows who is a potential recruit. Smart customers cultivate good relationships with salespeople in order to build their network…and to be ‘top-of-mind’ when the salesperson hears about new job opportunities.
Meetings are the lifeblood for great salespeople. You obviously have sales quotas and products to sell…that is why YOU want meetings. But to exceed those sales quotas, you need to stop thinking about why YOU want a meeting and think more about why your CUSTOMER wants a meeting with you.